Getting Rid of the Bothersome Lock Symbol

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 29, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel Excel in Microsoft 365


Henry notes that the latest versions of Excel include a change that results in displaying a "lock symbol" on the tab of a worksheet that has been locked. He finds this bothersome, as it takes up valuable space on the tab. As Henry adds more and more worksheets to the workbook, that lock symbol appearing on each tab becomes more and more a hinderance to using Excel, so he wonders if there is a way to turn off the lock symbol so it is not used.

Ironically, the lock symbol was added as a feature based on feedback by the community wanting such an icon to be visible for protected worksheets. However, there is already a backlash to its inclusion with the complaint being similar to that voiced by Henry, either based on the room it occupies or just the nuisance of seeing it, or even just the idea of something being forced on the user with no choice to eliminate it if preferred. On the Microsoft feedback website there is a post where you can vote on the topic of adding an option to show the lock icon or not:

https://excel.uservoice.com/forums/304921-excel-for-windows-desktop-application/suggestions/40858108

Turning it off is not an option in Excel. About the only thing you can do is to unprotect each worksheet which will, obviously, remove the lock icon. If you need protected worksheets and you don't want to see the icon, we seem to be stuck with that until such point as Microsoft decides to give users the option to display it or not display it.

There is a semi-related issue to consider here, as well. If your workbook has so many worksheets that each tab is horizontally as small as it can go, then you probably should not rely on using those tabs for your navigation needs anyway. It would be better, in that case, to right-click one of the arrows at the left of the tabs in order to display a dialog box you can use to choose a worksheet. That allows you to more easily see the names of the worksheets available.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7808) applies to Microsoft Excel Excel in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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